Posts Tagged ‘pelosi’

Cognitive Dissonance is the System Democrats Live in

Posted: Monday, November 8, 2010 at 11:20 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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cat-on-a-hot-newman-244x300Cognitive dissonance is defined as the discomfort someone feels when he or she tries to hold onto two contradictory ideas at the same time.  I suggest that the term ought to be enlarged to include the discomfort one is bound to experience when holding onto ideas that are manifestly at odds with the real world.

For example: the Obama Administration has criticized Israel for building new housing for Jews in East Jerusalem.  This is an obstacle to the peace process.  Secretary of Defense Gates has criticized Israeli PM Netanyahu for stating bluntly that only a credible military threat can encourage Iran to consider dropping its bid for nuclear weapons.  Secretary of Defense Gates is appalled.  He insists that our current negotiation strategy is working.

The problem is that there is no such thing as a genuine peace process for there is no player on the Palestinian side that is willing or able to make peace, let alone both; and the Administration’s negotiations with Iran, like those of its predecessor, haven’t slowed the Iranians down by a single day or a single ounce of radioactive material.  Our Middle East policies are based on fantasies, and those fantasies require a lot of mental energy to maintain.

Meanwhile here at home cognitive dissonance is the order of the day.  The Democrats seem about to reinstall Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as party leaders.  I endorsed this move in my last post, but I was kidding.  Michael Tomasky of the British Guardian doesn’t get the joke.

You lose 65 seats, you resign. Period. There should not be a question.

No, there shouldn’t be a question.  It doesn’t matter if Pelosi did the right thing as Speaker or if she will be effective in the minority.  Firing the coach is a necessary step to coming to grips with a humiliating loss.  If you don’t believe me, ask former Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips who got sacked after the Packers beat him 45-7.  Or ask Newt Gingrich.

Not firing the coach means not coming to terms.  Period.  Not coming to terms is what the Democrats specialize in these days.  The supporters of the current Congressional leadership say that the last two years were an age of heroes.  We did the right thing, and damn the voters, I mean, the torpedoes.

Okay, but when Pelosi urged her line out of the trenches, she didn’t tell them they were going to lose 65 seats.  She told them that forward was the way to winning the next election.  She told them that the Democrats lost big in 94 because they were cowards.  She told them that if they were brave this time, they would reap the fruits of victory.  She and Generalissimo Obama told them that if they would only push forward, the health care bill would become popular.

Well.  The game is over and the staff is raking up the confetti.  Obama is patiently taking responsibility while evading responsibility.  He tells us that the Democrats spent too much time getting things done and not enough time playing the political game.  I hope he knows he is telling a bald faced lie.  God help us if he believes what he is saying.

The President gave over thirty speeches during the health care debates.  All the wrangling over Congressional Budget Office numbers had nothing to do with policy and everything to do with manipulating the spin in the press.  Surely he can’t not know that.

Even if he does, it is clear that the Democrats are suffering from cognitive dissonance.  Reinstalling Coaches Reid and Pelosi is evidence enough.  The dissonance is on full display in the Oval Office.  From the Politico:

President Barack Obama has performed his act of contrition. Now comes the hard part, according to Democrats around the country: reckoning with the simple fact that he’s isolated himself from virtually every group that matters in American politics.

Congressional Democrats consider him distant and blame him for their historic defeat on Tuesday. Democratic state party leaders scoff at what they see as an inattentive and hapless political operation. Democratic lobbyists feel maligned by his holier-than-thou take on their profession. His own Cabinet — with only a few exceptions — has been marginalized.

His relations with business leaders could hardly be worse…  Add in his icy relations with Republicans, the media and, most important, most voters, and it’s easy to understand why his own staff leaked word to POLITICO that it wants Obama to shake up his staff and change his political approach.

It should be a no-brainer for a humbled Obama to move quickly after Tuesday’s thumping to try to repair these damaged relations, and indeed, in India on Sunday, he acknowledged the need for “midcourse corrections.”

But many Democrats privately say they are skeptical that Obama is self-aware enough to make the sort of dramatic changes they feel are needed — in his relations with other Democrats or in his very approach to the job.

That “self-aware” comment makes my point.  “Mendacity is the system we live in” said Brick or Big Daddy, I forget which.  I would change “mendacity” to “cognitive dissonance”.  We are awash in it.

Pelosi, NRA & Herseth-Sandlin

Posted: Saturday, October 16, 2010 at 12:58 am
By: RadioActive Chief
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Cory over at Madville Times, and on the KELO Blog is crowing about the NRA endorsing Stephanie’s re-election. It would be one thing if he thought that this was a positive thing, but the reality is somewhat less (or more, depending on viewpoint) than this.

I know it’s tough to make the leap, but really Cory, no one has given the NRA, or for that matter the GOP itself the right to confer an imprimatur of political orthodoxy for the conservative/libertarian movement. Therefore, exercising my own reformationist judgment, the NRA has proven itself unworthy of support and membership. With my membership up this fall, it will become a thing of the past, in favor of the Gun Owners of America, which is more consistent in it’s analysis of political ramifications, like the support that H-S has faithfully rendered for the Speakership Regime of SanFran Nan Pelosi. That, in and of itself is, IMHO, enough to render Herseth-Sandlin unsatisfactory as South Dakota’s sole Congressional member.

In spite of Cory’s crowing about the NRA endorsement (to attempt to give us a bad moment), and his moaning at other times about H-S making SOME votes that his progressive/liberal sensibility finds distasteful, note that in spite of such occasional discomfort, something, including presumably the prospect of continued support for Pelosi, leads Cory to continue to support H-S’s re-election, in spite of his expressed unhappiness.

For similar reasons, if one opposes the continuation of the Pelosi order of business in the House, then there is no reason to vote for H-S, no matter what occasional gestures she makes towards traditional South Dakota values.

So, Will You be Voting for Nancy Pelosi?

In light of all the recent news about Democrat candidates running as John Birchers, I felt is was finally time to call their bluff. We are in a very good position to take back the House, but there is some polling evidence that some of the red district blue dog frauds are still hanging in there. Keep in mind that there are 70 Dems in R rated districts. A handful of them are doing relatively well because they try to block out their party label, run against the liberal platform, attack their Republican opponent from the right, or tout endorsements from the NRA and Chamber of Commerce.

I think we need to start a campaign to call the offices of these clowns and demand that they go on record whether they would vote for Pelosi or Hoyer to be Speaker….We are sick of these frauds who trash Pelosi at home, but then vote for the liberal leadership, committee chairmen, and Democrat Rules Committee members who ensure passage of all the legislation that they claim to detest. However, if we can get them on record as declining to take a stand (that’s what most will do) we can help their opponents expose their fraudulent claims of being conservative.

From another source, this video shows H-S dodging this issue during an appearance. (H/T to South Dakota War College)

That above header hits the nail on the head. IMHO, that’s a key point to keep in mind when voting, whether early or on election day. Personally, I would no more vote for Pelosi than I would B.O., or for that matter, Herseth-Sandlin.

It’s all about Obama

Posted: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 11:10 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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isaynoThere is a saying among political junkies that all politics is local.  That is the sort of conventional wisdom that is always true, until it isn’t.  It is abundantly clear that politics isn’t local anywhere, even where it is.

Local conditions in Delaware have very likely cost the Republicans a Senate seat.  But those local conditions would be otherwise were it not for the national phenomenon of the Tea Party movement.  If this were not a very unusual year, Mike Castle would be the Republican nominee.

Likewise, we can look at West Virginia, Mountain Momma.  Governor Joe Manchin figured he was engineering himself a U.S. Senate seat when he arranged for a special election this year to replace Robert Byrd.  He had every reason to think so.  He is a very popular figure in that uneven slice of real estate.  Yet he is now a few points behind John Raese in two recent polls.  It’s not something in the water flowing out of those pock marked hills.  It’s the wave rolling beneath these spacious skies.

Then there is Connecticut.  Democrat Richard Blumenthal ought to have a lock on the Senate race.  He has a 51/41 percent approval in a recent poll.  By contrast his opponent Linda McMahon (a World Federation of Wrestling Executive) has a 43/42 percent unfavorable rating.  Yet McMahon has pulled into a statistical tie (three points behind).  That means that the Democrats will have to funnel more money to Connecticut, instead of funneling Connecticut money elsewhere.  It also means, more importantly, that Republicans might actually bag that Senate seat.

In Washington State Democrat Patty Murray’s lead over Dino Rossi has evaporated.  Russ Feingold in Wisconsin finally dared to appear on stage with President Obama.  He might as well.  When you are seven points or more behind in three polls, you are liberated to try anything.

None of these Democrats would be in trouble if all politics were local.  In fact, this year is an unambiguous referendum on the last two years of Democratic rule.  The people look to be about to vote with their fingers.  If the Republicans take the House and take or come close to taking the Senate, that is a decisive rejection of Obama, Reid, and Pelosi.

The situation has been clear since January.  Marion Berry, who occupies the Arkansas House district where yours truly was born, decided not to run for reelection when he realized that Obama just didn’t get it.  He and other Democrats tried to get Obama to recognize that they might be facing another disaster, like 1994 when the Republicans captured control of both houses of Congress.  To no avail.

“They just don’t seem to give it any credibility at all,” Berry said. “They just kept telling us how good it was going to be. The president himself, when that was brought up in one group, said, ‘Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.’ We’re going to see how much difference that makes now.”

Well, yeah, now the Democrats have him.  In Arkansas District 1, which Berry gave up, Republican Rick Crawford is running sixteen points ahead.  For the first time in living memory, Arkansas’s House delegation will be dominated by Republicans.  Damned if Obama wasn’t right.  He has made a difference.

Democrats Cooked

Posted: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 11:43 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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thor2-81I had hoped to bring on my Election Shaman by now, but for the last four days he has been curled up in a fetal position in my spare bedroom, rocking slowly back and forth, while muttering numbers like “80” and words like “Ragnarok”.

So I will make do with Charlie Cook in the National Journal.

For a long time it was primarily the “macro-political,” national polling data that was pointing to increasing signs of major Democratic midterm losses, while Democratic fortunes in individual races looked fine. But there began a gradual erosion in strength on a district-by-district basis, with incumbent Democrats in swing or Republican-leaning districts looking increasingly endangered while their colleagues in some more reliably Democratic seats began to look softer in their support and more vulnerable to a significant challenge.

In recent months, the national data reflecting a reversal of the 2006 and 2008 trends — namely, independent voters swinging strongly toward Republicans and a strong partisan enthusiasm gap favoring Republicans — began arguing that Republicans were in line to win a majority in the House with significant gains in the Senate.

In recent weeks, though, the district-by-district deterioration has reached the tipping point. It can now be said that Republicans will likely take back the House. An individual race analysis points to GOP gains of over 40 seats in the House, but the national polling suggests gains substantially higher than that.

While the individual race-by-race approach to analyzing House seats works great in “normal” election years, it invariably underestimates what happens in wave years, and the evidence is indisputable that this is a wave year.

Well, at least here was a clue to my Shaman’s delirium.  Charlie Cook has warned for months that Democrats were in big trouble, but he has been cautious about House and Senate numbers.  He is still cautious, but he is about to announce that eighty House Democrat seats are in play.

Eighty seats.  Cook quickly notes that no party has ever won every vulnerable seat.  Okay.  But if Republicans win half of those, Orange John Boehner replaces Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.  Given all the signs of a wave election, one has to expect that the GOP will win well over half.  If they get to sixty, this is bigger than 1994.

Then there is the Senate.

While Democrats’ majority status in the Senate is not as endangered as in the House, it does look like Republicans will likely score a net gain of at least eight seats, and a 10-seat swing that would give Republicans control of the upper chamber is not implausible. Cook Political Report Senate Editor Jennifer Duffy  points out that in 1998, six of the seven Senate races rated Toss Up in the final ratings were won by Democrats. In 2000, seven out of nine went Democratic; in 2002, six out of nine went Republican; in 2004, the GOP won eight out of nine; in 2006, Democrats won eight out of nine; and in 2008, Democrats won seven out of nine. There is a strong tendency in Senate races for most of the closest races to break in one direction. In this year, Democrats have gotten few breaks.

If all the close Senate races break in one direction…this is going to be one Hell of a year.

Al Franken: a vote for Herseth-Sandlin is a vote for Nancy Pelosi

Posted: Monday, August 9, 2010 at 1:47 am
By: Ken Blanchard
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frankenCongresswoman Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin brought Al Franken to Pine Ridge this weekend.  Why you ask?  Good question, says I.  Franken is a very divisive figure.  He can’t quite stop being a clown now that he is in the upper chamber of the United States Congress.

I think the strategy here is indicative of the Democrat’s problems across the map.  HS can’t win over many Republicans, and she’s about as popular among independents as a pay toilet in Scotland.  Her only hope is to gin up the Democrat base.  Pine Ridge is that.  Maybe Al Franken wowed them.

Of course the risk was that Franken would be Franken and say something stupid and alarming.  Apparently, he didn’t do that.

Instead he said something sensible, undeniably true, and alarming.  From the Rapid City Journal:

Franken said he was in South Dakota to help Herseth Sandlin at the polls in what promises to be a tough mid-term election for Democrats. Despite their different voting record on such issues as health care reform and cap-and-trade legislation, Franken said, he is a supporter of hers.

“I think she’s a great leader, and I really believe in her,” he said. “She has voted differently than I voted on a couple of things, but we need to be able to have somebody here in South Dakota who’s going to vote for Speaker Pelosi, not for Speaker Boehner.”

Let me pull out the firecracker:

We need to be able to have somebody here in South Dakota who’s going to vote for Speaker Pelosi.

Okay.  A vote for Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin is a vote for Nancy Pelosi.

Maybe that works for voters on Pine Ridge, and maybe for the most committed Democrats elsewhere in the state.  As for the rest of the state, Nancy Pelosi might be one of the few elected officials who is less palatable than Barack Obama.  The Democratic Congress right now has an approval rating that is only slightly above that of dry rot.  What do most South Dakotans think of Speaker Pelosi’s work over the last two years?

God Bless Al Franken.  I thought he might shoot a missile straight down through the deck and hull.  I never imagined he would do it by telling the plain truth.

Hat tip to reader William for this story.

She Voted Against It Before She Didn’t Vote Against It

Posted: Friday, July 16, 2010 at 7:28 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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Powerline has a post on Stephanie Herseth Sandlin’s advertising.  Here is the SHS ad that the post discusses.

I thought this was pretty good.  SHS reminds us that she has always campaigned by putting distance between herself and her political party.  The only thing of substance in this ad is her vote against bailouts and “the trillion dollar health care plan”.

Powerline notes the problem:

… she seems to be saying, is an insupportable monstrosity. So Herseth Sandln must support repeal of such impossibly costly legislation? Actually, no. According to Herseth Sandlin, “repealing it wouldn’t be a productive way forward.”

Representative Herseth-Sandlin is in a tight spot, to be sure.  She has to sell herself as an independent, and she uses her vote against health care reform to that effect.  She also has to hold on to a much Democratic support as possible.  Perhaps she judged that she couldn’t afford to vote for repeal.  That means she voted against it before she didn’t vote against it.

All this resolves to a simple calculation.  If you are a South Dakotan in favor of all the things that Obama/Reid/and Pelosi had been doing, you certainly ought to vote for Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin regardless of how she votes on health care.  You will still more of what you want than you would from Kristi Noem.  If you lean in the other direction, you certainly ought to vote Noem.

This explains, I think, my friend Cory Heidelberger’s fascinating series of anti-Noem, pro-SHS posts.  See here for the latest installment.  Cory reads the bottom line as I do above.

On the other hand, there is this press release from the Noem Campaign:

South Dakota Republican U.S. House Candidate Kristi Noem announced today that her campaign raised more than the three-term incumbent, Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in the most recent reporting period.  Noem raised $332,462 from May 20th to June 30th.  Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin raised $297,168 during that same period.

That fund raising deficit suggests that Heidelberger’s uncomfortable enthusiasm for SHS is not infectious.

ps.  When you view the clip above, you get suggestions for related clips.  All of them are references from film versions of Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot”.  I offer no interpretation.

Threats, Violence, & Paul Krugman’s Idiocy

Posted: Friday, March 26, 2010 at 10:26 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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In my last column, long time friend and occasional interlocutor A.I. draws our attention to Paul Krugman’s recent New York Times column, in which Krugman accuses Republicans of “eliminationist rhetoric.”  Here is a juicy bit:

What has been really striking has been the eliminationist rhetoric of the G.O.P., coming not from some radical fringe but from the party’s leaders. John Boehner, the House minority leader, declared that the passage of health reform was “Armageddon.” The Republican National Committee put out a fund-raising appeal that included a picture of Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, surrounded by flames, while the committee’s chairman declared that it was time to put Ms. Pelosi on “the firing line.” And Sarah Palin put out a map literally putting Democratic lawmakers in the cross hairs of a rifle sight.

All of this goes far beyond politics as usual. Democrats had a lot of harsh things to say about former President George W. Bush — but you’ll search in vain for anything comparably menacing, anything that even hinted at an appeal to violence, from members of Congress, let alone senior party officials.

One thing we now know about Krugman: he has a remarkable ability to make a fool of himself.  A few weeks ago he accused Republicans of living in “a different universe” because they believe that unemployment benefits can retard economic recovery.  But Krugman himself had said the same thing in an economics text book that he wrote!

Above Krugman denies that Democrats ever say anything that even hints at an appeal to violence.  But Krugman himself said this in an earlier column:

A message to progressives: By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy… But meanwhile, pass the health care bill.

Of course, it would be stupid to think that Krugman was even hinting at violence in that quote.  Hanging someone in effigy may be an ugly bit of political theater, but it is an old American tradition in politics and in sports.  Rarely if ever does it hint at real violence.

For the same reason the first quote was thoroughly stupid.  When someone says it is or isn’t “the end of the world,” Mr. Krugman, they usually don’t really mean the end of the world.  Neither did John Boehner mean that the Anti-Christ was pushing the health care bill.

The Pelosi ad urged its audience to fire Speaker Pelosi.  In this context, Mr. Krugman, “fire,” means remove them from a position.

Sarah Palin’s map, to which Krugman refers, is reproduced at Powerline.  It does indeed use crosshairs to indicate 20 House districts.  These are House Democrats, according to the ad, from districts that “we carried in 2008” and who voted for the health care reform.  The obvious meaning is that these districts are vulnerable in the upcoming election.

It is very common to speak of “targeting” members of the opposite party.  Indeed, military metaphors are ubiquitous in politics.  We talk about picking off Democrats or Republicans, of battle ground states.  Even the word campaign originally referred to a military action.

Krugman, of course, is waging a campaign of calumny against the Republicans.  He wants to convince his readers that we ought to reject their policies because they are bad people.  See ad hominem.  Unfortunately for him and his cause, he is dreadfully incompetent at it.

Plan 9 from Outer Space

Posted: Tuesday, March 16, 2010 at 11:26 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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plan_9_from_outer_spaceWhat is going on in Congress right now is the greatest show on earth.  The prospect of a fundamental piece of social reform passed by Congress in contempt of the manifest opposition of the public, well, one needs jugglers and computer graphics to capture that.  Here is a brief sketch of the evolution of the Democratic legislative strategy.

PLAN A.  Both the House and the Senate have passed healthcare reform bills.  Standard procedure would be to refer both bills to a conference committee, consisting of members of both Houses and both parties.  A single bill would emerge from conference and would have to be voted on again by both Houses.  However, the Senate bill was passed when the Democrats still had a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate.  Republican Scott Brown replaced Ted Kennedy in the Senate (largely by running in vehement opposition to the reform bills, in one of the most Democratic states in the U.S.).  Senate Republicans can now block a conference bill.  In saner times, that would have been the end of it.  But the Democrats are determined to pass reform, public opinion and fall elections be damned.  So:

PLAN B.  The Democrats could enact reform simply by passing the existing Senate bill in the House and then presenting it to the President for his signature.  But the Senate bill was never intended to be the final version of the bill.  Worse, portions of it are repugnant to way too many House Democrats.  So that doesn’t work.  The problem here is not Republican opposition, but divisions within the House Democratic Caucus.  At this point, in any rational universe, the project would have been abandoned.

PLAN C.  Pelosi, Reid, and company decided to try to pass a bill by means of the reconciliation procedure.  The House would pass the Senate bill, as written; but it would immediately pass a second bill proscribing changes in the first one.  That second bill would be the real piece of legislation.  The reconciliation bill would then be sent to the Senate, which could pass it by a simple majority.  The Republicans could not filibuster.

Reconciliation has been used by both parties to get around the filibuster, but as former Hillary Clinton advisor Mark Penn points out, it was only used when relatively small special interest groups were blocking legislation favored by clear majorities in both houses and backed by public opinion.  Using reconciliation in this case would be unprecedented.  That doesn’t mean it’s unethical, let alone illegal or unconstitutional.

The question is whether Speaker Pelosi has the votes.  A lot of House Democrats are facing very tough elections this fall.  A vote for this bill in a procedure that looks bizarre might be the nail in their electoral coffins.  They also have to go out on a limb.  What happens if the Senate fails or even refuses to pass the reconciliation bill?  Then the Senate bill will be enacted.  That Pelosi doesn’t have the votes is indicated by the consideration of a fourth option.

PLAN D.  Pass the reconciliation bill without passing the Senate bill, and then “deem” the Senate bill to have passed the House without any Democrat in the House actually having to vote on it.  This procedure has been used before by both parties.  But again, never in the case of such a major piece of legislation, or to escape the duty of actually voting for a bill.  It has only been used for “routine matters,” where there were no real objections to a bill, and the only point was to save time.  Using it in a case where there is a real controversy is a clear abuse of the procedure.

That Pelosi and House Majority Leader Hoyer are even discussing Plan D means that they don’t have the votes for the reconciliation option.  They may suppose that they can win a few more votes for a “reconciled” bill from those House members who don’t have to vote for the Senate version first.  But I don’t see how that is so.  House members will be judged by their constituents according to how they voted when it counted.

Plan D is just a way to keep the process going in the hope that, somehow, they will get the votes they need.  Maybe Pelosi will pull this off, and the Democrats will create one more entitlement that we can’t get rid of and can’t afford.  But this is a God awful mess.

Did Health Care Reform Just Collapse?

Posted: Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 11:28 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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titanicApparently so, if the AP report by Erica Werner is accurate.  From TPM:

House leaders have concluded they cannot change a divisive abortion provision in President Barack Obama’s health care bill and will try to pass the sweeping legislation without the support of ardent anti-abortion Democrats.

Wow.  I haven’t been trying to keep track of the votes in the House, but here is a quick summary.  The Hill reports that Speaker Pelosi can afford to lose 37 Democrats, but not one more, to pass the Senate Bill out of the House.  I am reminded of the engineer in Titanic saying: we can stay afloat with three chambers flooded, but not five.  Not five!  The Hill counted 25 Democrats as definite naysayers, and 12 “Stupak” Democrats as nay without a change in abortion language.  That’s 37.  If these numbers are right and so is Werner, Pelosi has just enough.

Jay Cost on the RealClearPolitics Horserace Blog has been trying to keep count.  He also counts 25 naysayers (those who voted no once before), and 19 possible nays.  Cost is reporting that several Democrats today signaled that they were switching from yea to nay, including Henry Cuellar of Texas and Marion Berry of Arkansas.

I haven’t seen the AP report confirmed anywhere else, so groans and hoorays are not yet in order.  But as Cost puts it, it has been a very rough day for ObamaCare.

Of course, passing the bill out of the House doesn’t mean that a bill will be passed into law.  Keith Hennessey explains the intricacies and obstacles facing final passage through reconciliation.  It looks like one of those innumerable tunnels that Indiana Jones has to shoot through.  Unfortunately for reform advocates, this isn’t a movie.

Democrats continue to talk and act as if they are sailing toward passage.  Maybe the Speaker has a reservoir of votes that will switch in time.  Otherwise, this looks like a slow motion train wreck.

ObamaCare Derangement Syndrome

Posted: Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 11:43 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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rangelrelaxinRepresentative Herseth-Sandlin made it clear that she will vote no on the Senate ObamaCare bill, and opposes passing it by reconciliation.  So far I don’t think that a single “no” vote in the House has switched, while several “yes” votes are wavering.  Subtract the “yes” votes that are no longer in the House, and that means that Pelosi hasn’t got a majority to pass the Senate bill out.

The President has pleaded for a bill by the 18th, but now Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is now talking about sometime after Easter.  There are two pieces of bad news for the Democrats in that.  One is that is suggests that the Democrats don’t know whether they can get this thing out of the House or not.  If they can’t, it will represent a humiliating defeat for the party, angering anti-ObamaCare voters, and dispiriting the left.

The other bad news is that this thing keeps dragging out.  Apart from the damage that the spectacle might be doing, it is sucking up all the oxygen in Congress and the White House.  Neither the President nor the leadership in either house has time to do anything else than try to find ways to bribe a few no votes to come over.

This was evident, I think, in Speaker Pelosi’s appallingly bad leadership in the Rangel affair.  After Rangel was admonished by the House Ethics Committee (something that takes some doing), it was the job of an effective speaker to decide whether she was 1) going to defend him or 2) remove him as chairman of the exalted Ways and Means Committee.  She should only have decided on one if it was worth the costs and if she in fact had the power to keep Rangel in his post.

What she did was to defend him, making some very embarrassing comments in the process, only to have to immediately change her mind and see him go.  That’s disarray.  Then she had to decide who to replace Rangel with.  She announced on Thursday that Pete Stark would step in as a “temporary” replacement.  Her allies defended this choice on grounds of seniority.

But there were obvious problems with Stark.  To begin with, he is a loose cannon, with a history of saying offensive things.  He has called the Blue Dog Democrats, whom Pelosi is trying to court, “brain dead.”  Second, Stark is from California, and the committee leadership of Congress, and especially of the committees dealing with health care, is California-heavy already.

Again Speaker Pelosi was forced to reverse herself and push forward Rep. Sandy Levin of Michigan.  This is very poor leadership at a time when Pelosi needs all of her clout and power.

The best explanation of Speaker Pelosi’s sudden loss of control is simply that all of her brain cells, and those of her party, are completely dedicated to passing a health care bill.  The CPU is running full and hot with that one issue.

Trying to pass a fundamental piece of reform legislation in the current circumstances (an economic crisis, pronounced public opposition, a string of election losses) has driven the majority party to distraction.  There is a very good reason that Americans have lost confidence in their government.  It’s gone funny on us.